J.R. Smith says he's headed to Knicks
J.R. Smith (5) of the Denver Nuggets reacts after scoring against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. / Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty
GREENBURGH, N.Y. - J.R. Smith said Friday he is joining the New York Knicks, reuniting with former Denver teammate Carmelo Anthony to provide more scoring punch.
Though the team said there was no deal yet, Smith wrote "New York Knicks it is!" Friday morning on his Twitter account:
New York Knicks It Is!— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) February 17, 2012
Smith signed in China during the lockout and was ineligible to return to the NBA until his team's season was finished there. The Knicks can't reach a deal with him until his return is cleared by FIBA, basketball's international governing body.
Coach Mike D'Antoni said Smith would strengthen the Knicks bench, with Landry Fields remaining the starting shooting guard.
Smith is a streaky shooter with deep range and has averaged 12.5 points in the NBA since he was the No. 18 pick by the Hornets in the 2004 draft. He spent the last five seasons with the Nuggets, twice scoring more than 15 points per game.
D'Antoni called Smith a "talented player" and said the team's depth will "be really good."
But Smith is also temperamental and has clashed with teammates and coaches, and his signing now could be risky for a Knicks team that has finally found its stride behind Jeremy Lin, winning seven straight games entering their game against the Hornets on Friday night.
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But D'Antoni said the Knicks will be fine with the roster changes.
"That'll be a hurdle we'll get over," he said following the Knicks' morning shootaround.
CBSSports.com's Matt Moore says Smith will be a big boost for the Knicks.
"Being able to play a second lineup of Toney Douglas/Mike Bibby, Iman Shumper, Landry Fields, and a big to pair with Amar'e Stoudemire or Tyson Chandler means the dropoff won't be as big, and the ability to keep a scorer on the floor with Melo or, ahem, Jeremy Lin on the bench helps considerably in the backcourt," Moore writes.
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